Texas Guardsmen go back to the basics with base defense

Story by: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson

Posted: August 12, 2016

Soldiers from 636th Brigade Support Battion, 836th Engineer Co. (Sappers), and 136th Military Police Co. participate in base defense training during the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Exportable Combat Training Capability exercise at Ft. Hood, Texas, August 9-14. This exercise focuses on reinforcing and increasing proficiency in fundamental Soldier skills, such as shooting, moving, and communicating. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson/Released)
Soldiers from 636th Brigade Support Battalion, 836th Engineer Co. (Sappers), and 136th Military Police Co. participate in base defense training during the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Exportable Combat Training Capability exercise at Ft. Hood, Texas, August 9-14. This exercise focuses on reinforcing and increasing proficiency in fundamental Soldier skills, such as shooting, moving, and communicating. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson/Released)

Ft. Hood, Texas – Members of the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, like all Soldiers in the Texas Army National Guard, have two primary missions: domestic support and overseas warfighting. During the brigade's  Exportable Combat Training Capability exercise at Ft. Hood, Texas, August 9-14, these experts in emergency response from the 636th Brigade Support Bn., the 836th Engineer Co. (Sappers), and the 136th Military Police Co., are getting back to the fundamental Soldiering skills they would use when deployed. 

“We're out here for two weeks, receiving training on route security, on base security, and on basic MP skills,” said Spc. Blake Davis, a military policeman stationed in the gunners hatch of a gun truck. “This training is more hands on, so I'm learning a lot.”

One of the primary “green” missions of the 636th BSB is the establishment and defense of the battalion staging area. The BSA serves as the central point for the battalion's tactical operations center, as well as communications services and basic sustainment functions, such as living quarters and field feeding operations for the entire brigade.

“Today we're doing a simulation of base defense,” said Maj. Kadett Derry, 636th BSB executive officer. “This is where we have the battalion staging area, where we have the basic elements that support the brigade. This is where we get attacked and at this point the enemy is coming in and we're trying to defend our position.”

One of the critical tasks in establishing a base defense plan is using the terrain to best advantage, establishing a defensible perimeter by placing Soldiers and vehicles in elevated positions with good visibility on any approaching enemy while offering cover and concealment to Guardsmen on the ground.

“We're protecting the base, making sure no one comes over [the perimeter],” said Blake. “After we receive positive confirmation, we're going to engage that target.” While on guard duty, Blake scanned the brush and scrub outside the concertina wire with binoculars, keeping a sharp eye out for unexpected movement or suspicious activity.

In addition to training to detect the enemy, the Soldiers also developed their ability to respond to an attack. To ensure a successful defense, the Guardsmen conducted “react to fire” drills and established response teams.

“Once the enemy hits, it's quite amazing what we do at that point,” said Derry. “We have a quick reaction force, they actually go out and engage the enemy. If anyone comes inside the line, we have a ready reserve force.”

Participating in the training allows younger or less experienced Soldiers the chance to increase their proficiency in these fundamental warfighting skills. 

“I'm learning from my NCOs,” said Blake. “I'm watching them and participating in other events so I can get practice.”

“We're getting ready for a different mission,” said Spc. Keith Hoffman, a wheeled vehicle mechanic from B. Co., 626th BSB. “This is different from our usual classes, and we get to learn what we're going to do overseas, so we can do both our jobs right.”

The Guardsmen will continue to train and refine these fundamental techniques until the drills become second nature.

“It's exciting to see our Soldiers out there on the line. It's a work in progress,” said Derry. “After every iteration, we're continuing to improve. It's amazing to see. We have some great soldiers.”